Monday, August 18, 2008

Has anyone experienced Technorati working perfectly?

Its a rather silly subject to post about, but my curiosity got the better of me.

I went to the technorati site to have a look if they had indexed that blog I was having trouble with (and this one) and I see:

Doh! The Technorati Monster escaped again.

We're currently experiencing backend issues and are working to resolve them as quickly as possible. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.

Like this. Nice look, BTW. Dysfunctional for the site, but clean, aesthetic feel. Maybe the site is better down..... Don't believe me? See this:

Yesterday, it was an apology about some search and indexing problems they were having.

Almost all the time, there is someone or the other with blogs flagged for review, not indexed, links not indexed.....

This is of course idle curiosity..... I don't have a single blog that ever gets any traffic worth mentioning from there, so it doesn't really matter to me if they shut down the site on a whim. I never went there in the first place except for some occasional curiosity, but if you use Technorati for promoting your blog for more traffic.....

And curiosity gets me again. I'm wondering if anyone has experienced this place working like it was supposed to; and out of idle curiosity, what was it like?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

How many backlinks do I really have?

Was just checking the back links for my blog Footprints on the mountainside, which is about my expereinces and reflections about my work in the outdoors and training. This was inspired by my recent problems with Technorati indexing my blog....

The more I looked into this, the more confused I got. Apparently, not only every system has its own ways of counting the links, but things differ within them as well. I tried different ways of looking at this. Each one had its own results and led me to different understandings on what these resources looked at, but little understanding on how many backlinks I really  had.

Not even going to speak about Alexa here, since it has nothing to do with links....

Outside tools like backlinkwatch show about 263 links to this page. When I login to my wordpress dashboard, the Technorati Incoming Links Plugin finds links to me on Technorati (never mind that they have stopped indexing my blog), while google blog search shows no links to this blog...... My dear old wordpress thinks me linking to another post on my own blog is a link too and shows it as a trackback...... while this is misleading, I like the feel of something being happy to index absolutely every link I have that it finds....

Then for the Google thing..... The "External Links" in my Webmaster Tools thingy says I have 463 links pointing to my blog, but the index stats show one link.

Searching for my link on the net excluding my blog gives me these results-->

So now, I am just wondering when everyone will agree about how many links people have......

In the meanwhile, I have decided to let them do their job, and I will do mine.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Technorati mess

I really don't know what the matter is with Technorati. I rarely check what's happening with my blogs there, so it came as a surprise to see my blogs as having been pinged 23 days ago. This is of course nonsense. My blogs ping technorati (and half the world) each time I make a post.

Then I searched for it to see if anyone else has similar problems, but most of the posts I found were from two years ago. I emailed their support, and am still waiting for a reply.

I found some technorati post explaining how they were not indexing 2.3 version blogs because of some vulnerability, but my version of Wordpress is always the latest - I update the instant I come to know.

The strange thing is that out of my four blogs:

  • Footprints on the Mountainside seems to have vanished from their index, though it shows up complete with blog reactions and authority in my profile. This is a wordpress.
  • Life As I Find It is also a Wordpress, with much of the same everything (and on the same server), but it is fully indexed.
  • Adventures in India is a Postnuke I write to sometimes, and it is not even a blog, but fully indexed, though it shows some ancient posts as recent.... but I can live with that.
  • Nerd In Progress - this blog - is a Blogger thing, and it is indexed until 2 days ago.
  • My HTML website Wide Aware is also indexed (of course no latest posts) but authority 11 being registered.
I really don't understand what is happening. There seems to be no logical pattern. One Wordpress is indexed, one is not, one Blogger stopped being indexed two days ago, the Wordpress getting indexed is showing latest posts instantly. The Postnuke needs to be pinged, but indexes pretty fast too. The HTML site seems to be fine. It is not even as though there is a pattern with all my blogs having problems..... can't figure out where to start looking at this from.

Actually, I'm not sure I need to look at anything. I don't depend on Technorati in any case. I'm just getting hyper because I like everything to work. So I'm going to ignore it, and let Technorati figure their own life out, while I enjoy mine.

Update: I tried something different and discovered something interesting. I tried to claim my blog again. It wasnt' indexed, so it shouldn't matter, right? Wrong. Technorati wouldn't let me claim it, and finally directed me in the right direction...... straight into their FAQs.

The bottom line of the matter seems to be that this blog, and my other Wordpress blogs have been flagged for review (no clue why). The details of it:

When I try to find my blog in the Blog Directory, I get the Sorry :~( message.

Your blog may be flagged for review......

Getting the "There was a problem claiming your blog" message immediately?

If the system will not allow the blog claim to go further than the first step, then your blog has been flagged for review.....

Most recent posts not indexed AND "Last Pinged" date IS NOT updating?

If pinging Technorati manually does not work (After the really obvious suggestion of pinging it...)

If you are new to Technorati and claimed your blog, and you've tried pinging and the "Last Updated" does not change, your blog may still be pending review. If this is the case, please understand that it may take some time for the review and for indexing to continue for your blog. Claiming your blog puts gives your a higher priority in the review, so be sure to claim your blog!

Oh fabulous, so this takes me back to my loop. My blog is pending review and not cleared, so I must claim in, which is not allowed because my blog is pending review........

There are suggestions to contact support on each of these pages, and I have contacted support from each of these pages and for each blog separately, in addition to my earlier email...... Nothing from them so far except the automated email that my email was received, and the support staff has a lot of work to do.

Have I mentioned that I am sooooo not happy with this shoddy state of affairs at Technorati?

The Blog Development Challenge - Blog Growth - 2

This is part 2 of the blog growth challenge, where I began last month with this blog being brand new. This is the first post:

The Blog Development Challenge - Blog Growth - 1

I've been getting some traffic from stumbleupon and digg and very minute amounts from search engines. Posts are getting commented. One of the posts has 25 diggs!!! which is quite good by Digg standards though nothing like the avalanche that people talk about. This growth has happened in less than a month.

Still very few subscribers (like 5 or so)

As of now, the blog has:

  • 5 subscribers (average per day)
  • 31 posts and about 5 or so posts have comments.
  • 5 or so hits as search traffic
  • 0 direct traffic
  • Referrals:

Thank you all, my readers for supporting this new blog, and I invite your comments to make it even better.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

5-5-5-4-5 Traffic Tips

Here's a collection of the traffic and promotion tips that I use often and that work well for me. This first list is about posting in a way that promotes your blog:

  1. Write good content. This one is not as simple as it seems. Take some time to think about what you want to write, and what arre the things you could do to add value to it. You want to give your readers something they don't know. This is not about writing random posts about every trip you take, unless you can also share how they can have some of those experiences, what is different about this trip, information about the place and its quirks that most people don't know, etc.
  2. Write interesting titles - think of them as visiting cards for your blog. They appear in search engines, bookmarks and even in sidebar links of your own blog. If you read the titles you write, do you want to click through to find out what content they lead? Darren Rose (as always) has written an awesome post on how to choose a topic for your next post.
  3. Add tags to your post. Tags are all important. They tell technorati, readers, search engines, etc what your post is about. If you use wordpress, tag lists and clouds can work as an interesting way of navigating your blog. Recommended Tags is a plugin for wordpress that shows all your tags and click to add them to a post quickly. Blogger and other platforms show clickable lists. Be sure to use them.
  4. Take a minute to finish your post. Read it through, fix errors, take a break, take another fresh look. Do you enjoy reading? Change what you don't already.
  5. Link to good resources. Link to other bloggers. Outgoing links are not half as bad as they seem. If you are worried about pagerank, think of the traffic they bring. If you link well and reference people, they are curious about you and what you are (and what you see in them). Think of it as meeting new people and introducing them to those you know. You may know someone briefly, but when you introduce them to more people who like them, it is a step closer in your relationship too. They are just as likely to write about you.

The design of your blog:

  1. Keep it clean and uncluttered. Do you need everything there on your site? Do you need to have buttons to every social bookmarking site on the planet? Do you need to show that your blog has 20 readers? Get rid of it. Remove all distractions from your content (and your ads). Of course, some buttons to populat bookmarking sites are a great idea, but I find that it works better when they are in individual posts (and submit those urls).
  2. Keep your RSS subscription button clearly visible and encourage readers to subscribe. While you are at it, subscribe to my feed as well. Some people choose to have different small icons for different readers. I prefer to have one nice, orange, large one that clearly screams "RSS Feed". I don't really care whether people subscribe in Bloglines or Google Reader, so why should I devote real estate to that? What helps is a link to a post near it that explains why RSS feeds are a good thing, for those who don't know.
  3. Check your theme. Particularly check the styles you use. Ideally, your post should have one main headline, etc. See if the peripherals (sidebar, footer, etc) are using any tags you are using to emphasize stuff in your posts - they will dilute the impact of your titles and important content, and seem like duplicate content.
  4. Use images in your post. They catch the eye, and attract immediate attention to what you have written.
  5. Invite readers to comment on and share your posts if they like them.

These resources now have to do with getting your content out to people who want to read in the online world. Everyday stuff:
  1. Publish RSS feed and submit blot and feed to search engines and directories. This will take time, and sometimes you come across new places that don't have you, so keep an eye out, and submit where they don't have you whenever you find it.
  2. Create online social bookmarking accounts like, Reddit, etc. SumbleUpon is another great resource for promoting, as well as having fun. Get your account in Digg and Technorati. Submit your site once in a while, along with others. Use categories and tags carefully. Ask your friends (and family, neighbours, students, colleagues....) to submit/vote for your posts too.
  3. Get a Twitter account and post regularly. Get followers. Share your latest posts on your Twitter.
  4. Give away something for free that will carry your blog link along. (This is an oldie, but it works). On one of my sites, I share some simple instruction sheets for participants for white water rafting, and I don't know how many people have contacted me because of them. On a more effective scale, creating and distributing themes, plugins, and other stuff that people will find useful are good. Themes give you a link from every page, but I don't know how useful it is for either traffic or as a link. What we are looking for is people liking your content and actively posting about it, sharing it with others, talking about it....
  5. Write one "super-post" at intervals, and submit it absolutely everywhere - including news sites, if it suits. It helps if these posts (at least) have a catchy image to catch the eye of readers as soon as they land up.

Exotic stuff (need to spend money):
  1. Hold contests and giveaways for writing about your blog.
  2. Pay for links/posts, etc. Unattractive, but hey, why not?
  3. Pay someone to promote your content. College kids should be good at this. Many of my students seem to live online.
  4. Pay someone to write articles (expensive, and rarely satisfies me)

Posting and interaction:

  1. Comment on blogs. The more you get out and read what others are writing and share it, the more you will meet new people. All bloggers want to know what the readers think. If you can write a comment that conveys that, it is very likely that people will follow through to your blog (don't forget to put in your url) to find out more about you.
  2. Link to posts you find interesting. This sounds similar, to the earlier point, but this is about you finding something interesting and talking about it on your blog (as different from referencing a resource). Find an initiative to applaud, something to criticize, contribute to, have a different take on, and link to the original post. Do trackbacks where you can.
  3. Submit posts to blog carnivals. This is one way of getting your good content acknowledged as well as a link. Host blog carnivals too. Increase interaction.
  4. Write articles and submit to directories.
  5. Write reviews and testimonials. If you have done a good job, the subject of your attention should be happy to showcase your writing on their site.

In the real world. Make your logo your style statement. T-shirts, caps, luggage(?), Why promote NIKE when you can do it for yourself? I know a friend who has his url engraved on his door. That's one url I will never forget.

So what are ideas that work for you?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Digg, Reddit and in blogger posts

Adding Digg, Reddit, and whichever social bookmarking button you like to blogger posts seems to be difficult for many people. As you can see, I have today added these buttons.

For Digg, I used a piece of code floating around for a long time. It seems to be there on quite a few sites, so I don't really know whom to credit for it. Regardless, this is the code:

I replaced <p><data:post.body/></p> in the template with


<!-- DIGG -->

<div style='float:right; margin-left:10px;'>

<script type='text/javascript'>

digg_url = '<data:post.url/>';


<script src='' type='text/javascript'/>




And that easily, its done.

The smaller buttons I have added to each post (you can have Digg here too) what you have to do is:

  1. Find the buttons you would like to use, and upload them somewhere from where you can access them. You can use a site you have, or some free image hosting service.
  2. Note the links to the image files for each.
  3. Finally, create code like this for each service:

<a expr:href='&quot;; + data:post.url + &quot;&amp;title=&quot; + data:post.title' target='_blank' title='Add to!'><img border='none' height='20' src='' width='20'/></a>

<a expr:href='&quot;; + data:post.url + &quot;&amp;title=&quot; + data:post.title' target='_blank' title='Submit to Redit!'><img border='none' height='20' src='' width='20'/></a>

These are the two examples I have given, but really, you can do this to submit to any service you would like to submit to. Some popular submit urls for the commonly known services are:

  • Blinkbits
  • Blinklist
  • Blogmarks
  • Co.mments
  • Connotea
  • Fark
  • Feedmelinks
  • Furl
  • Linkagogo
  • Newsvine
  • Netvouz
  • Rawsugar
  • Scuttle
  • Shadows
  • Simpy
  • Smarking
  • Spurl
  • Tailrank
  • Wists
  • Yahoo

Promoting your blog for more traffic takes sustained efforts. I hope this information helps. Do let me know if there are any problems or if you need anything in particular.

Checking AdSense Earnings

Most bloggers I know seem to be obsessed with their AsSense earnings. Many use the firefox widget to have their current earnings right there in their browser. Others keep logging into their various accounts periodically.

It brings a sense of achievement to see them rising through the day, but really, how much time do we spend staring at something that will happen anyway?

Of course, some of my friends have shared that they can keep an eye on things and know that something is wrong immediately (including problems with the site, if pageviews are not rising). Other common reasons include checking the impact of their latest changes to the site and understanding patterns in timings when the site is most active.

I don't really have the capability to understand this too well, nor the time, so when I look at my earnings, its usually about staring at them with a little satisfaction (they seem to be growing slightly).

What do you see as a "good" frequency to check, and how do you think it benifits the way you do things?


Sunday, August 10, 2008

FLock - The Amazing browser

Thanks to the comment from i-hater on the Scribefire post, I downloaded the Flock browser. I had heard about FLock before, but hadn't really had the time or inclination to invest in discovering yet another browser.

After hearing such resounding recommendation from him, I downloaded the browser and here I am, making my post from this browser. Not just that, in the process of discovering my browser, I have added my gmail account to send emails from by default, my yahoo account, Facebook, Flickr, ......

I can blog, stay connected across many social networks, drag and drop links to share, read my RSS feeds...... and I haven't yet added a single anything. No add-ons, no nothing - this is what I have "out of the box".

Considering that I use this site to share my learnings about online life, there is no way I can't write about this. For a blogger, the ease of use and the sheer number of things at your finger tips is fabulous.
  • Share links across your networks - facebook, twitter etc.
  • Make blog posts easily
  • Get updates in your sidebar
  • Click email links to send emails from your gmail account
  • Upload tons of photos (1000 at a go) to Picassa, photobucket...
  • Its fancy, its fast.
Curious, go and see the full range of all they offer on their site and while you're there, download the browser. You can't afford to miss it.

The one drawback I see as compared with Scribefire is the lack of labels/categories to select from to add to the post, which (if I know my habits) runs the risk of me not using some suitable tags I already have, and creating some similar ones .... in short, a categorizing mess waiting to happen, unless I leave that blank and then edit them after logging in, which kinda defeats the whole purpose.

Shout Stories

After a break again.... I was out of town, on a training programme, I'm back with a new idea.

This one is to shoutstories. I was on a trip of reading what people do, and I realized that one of the most attractive things I found was stories with a personal connection that procide me with insights I can apply in my life as well.

Talk of vicarious learning. But why not? People look for all sorts of things in blogs. Why not look for inspiring personal learning experiences. This leads me to research the impact of personal sharing on leaders.

I invite you to help me in this endeavour. If you have posts you share your experiences of learning in, do share them here along with any insights related with them. If you haven't, its a good opportunity to try and help a fellow blogger as well :D

Saturday, August 2, 2008

How to pay online MTNL bill

MTNL now allows you to pay your bills online using the billdesk service. Its really quite simple, but I can explain for whatever its worth.

Go to the MTNL Selfcare page. You don't need an account or anything. Just be sure to have a copy of your bill (or know your customer account number), and either your login for your online account, or your credit card.

In the form provided, fill in your details - your landline phone number and customer account number, and hit view details.

The results should display your current outstanding amount. Fill in the fields for contact details, and opt for online payment.

Then, it is simply a matter of selecting mode of payment, logging in to your online bank account, or adding credit card details, and submitting until done.

Just be sure to follow instructions exactly as given.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Difference between RTGS and NEFT

As more and more people are turning to online banking out of sheer convenience, there is this whole dust cloud about what exactly is the difference between RTGS and NEFT transactions.

I am not a banker, but highlighting some of the differences I know:
  1. RTGS is Real Time Gross Settlement. NEFT is National Electronic Funds Transfer
  2. RTGS goes through the Reserve Bank NEFT is between banks.
  3. RTGS happens real time during the working hours of RTGS (09:00am to 03:30pm from Monday to Friday and 09:00am to 11:00am on Saturdays) - instantly - the benificiary bank transfers the funds to the individuals account within two hours. NEFT transactions are recorded and processed as batches 6 times a day (9.30 AM,10.30AM,
    12.00 noon, 1.00PM, 3.00PM and 4.00 PM) from Monday to Friday and 3 times during Satudays (9.30AM, 10.30 AM and 12.00 noon)
  4. RTGS is recommended for sums of money greater than one lakh rupees. NEFT transactions have no limits.
  5. NEFT transactions are limited to rupees and remitances can't be made to foreign banks.
Regardless of what transaction type you opt for, there is certain information required in both - Account name and number, bank, branck, IFSC code of the receivers branch, and of course, the amount to be paid.

I hope this helps.

For those who understand such things, and to find out about charges levied on the transactions, this is an excellent resource.